Masergy guarantees video traffic delivery

IP service provider Masergy Communications Inc. will flesh out its portfolio this week by launching a network service optimized for video communications.

The start-up, which launched its first two services in August, has a Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) OC-12 backbone with 10 points of presence across the United States. The video service, which is designed to support time-sensitive audio and video communications, uses MPLS to set priority paths across the network.

The service does not include videoconferencing gear, says Mike Beaton, senior vice-president of global sales and business development. It’s simply optimized for video communications that can be negatively affected by network congestion or jitter.

The service-level agreements promise 100 per cent packet delivery, 100 per cent in-sequence packet delivery, a minimum of 10msec of latency and jitter, and less than 1-second network failover to a back-up connection in the case of an outage.

Masergy Video complements the company’s inControl IP and inControl Link services. The inControl IP service is a point-to-point dedicated IP offering that supports two traffic classes, normal and priority. Users can chose to tag all their business transaction applications as priority traffic, while reserving normal traffic for Web surfing and e-mail. Internet access is bundled in at no additional cost.

The inControl Link offering is a Layer 2 switched service for users who want to set up VPNs and use Masergy’s backbone. This service offers users three classes of service – normal, priority and reserved. The reserved level is optimized for time-sensitive traffic such as voice.

Users access Masergy’s network via local T-1 or T-3 lines, frame relay or metropolitan Ethernet connections. The offerings are available in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Formed a year ago, Masergy built its OC-12 network by leasing transport capacity from Level 3 Communications. It acquired many of its POP facilities from Zephion Networks, a troubled competitive local exchange carrier that filed for bankruptcy protection in July.

Masergy raised US$57.4 million in its first round of financing last month. Key investors include Meritage Private Equity Funds, Centennial Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

The company competes with some of the biggest names in telecom, including AT&T Corp., WorldCom Inc., Equant NV and Teleglobe Inc., which all offer MPLS network services. One reason Masergy has been able to drum up funding during a time when capital is short may be its ability to offer users more control over their network connections.

“Masergy services are pegged toward customers that are concerned with performance monitoring, management and being able to look at how specific applications are performing,” says Maribel Dolinov, senior analyst at Forrester Research.

The company is first targeting a handful of markets where they can likely win a small, but solid customer base because of some users’ general dissatisfaction in dealing with large service providers, she says. “The fact is, there have been a lot of customer service issues with the big telecom companies.”

Masergy lets users tap into a service control centre from a Web browser. This portal lets users securely view network usage statistics, order additional services, set different priority levels for specific applications, monitor application performance, generate performance reports and contact customer service. User changes are made in “near real-time,” says Rick Wilder, principal scientist.

Masergy plans to offer a variety of managed services, including voice over IP and network firewall. The company is in the process of deploying Sonus Networks’ voice-over-IP gateways and expects to launch voice-over-IP support in December with services rolling out in January. Masergy expects to rollout a managed VPN service in February that will include the use of network-based firewalls.

The company has plans to introduce services in Western Europe and Latin America by year-end. Masergy leases capacity from Storm Communications in Europe and is forming a relationship with IFX Networks, a service provider in Latin America.

The Masergy Video service is available for US$1,000 per month for a T-1 port plus US$250 to US$2,000 per month for 64Kbps up to 1.544Mbps of dedicated bandwidth.

Masergy is at